It’s life Jim, but not as we know it…

By Theresa Clark|20th March 2020

Living with a pandemic, covid19, coronavirus

As we reach the end of a week where life changed dramatically for so many at home and at work, I thought I would try to collate just a few of the best bits of information I have found to try to help my newfound WFH/home-school/multi-company office.

I’m currently sitting at one end of our dining room table whilst my husband, who works for another company, is camped out at the other. To add to this, we have just completed our first week juggling this with our 8 and 10-year-old daughters also at home, due to returning from skiing and our eldest developed cold-like symptoms we decided to err on the side of caution.

I’m not going to lie, if you’re about to find yourself in a similar position, WFH with Primary school-age little darlings, it is not a walk in the park! You’ll find yourself mid-important-call as one as pushed/nipped/taken etc from the other, as you try to mask the sounds, whilst death staring and trying to signal for them to get out of the way resembling a maniac…whilst trying to maintain your best calm, professional ‘telephone phone voice’, for them to point out after every phone call…
“Mummy…why do you talk so differently on the phone to work people…?”, which never gets old!

This pandemic has taken our family completely unprepared as it escalated at quite a rate whilst we were away and now finding ourselves chasing our tails in how to make this work best for us until we emerge out the other side. Both my husband and I have generally been office based so our would-be office has been our dumping ground box room since moving into this house a little while ago! So now each evening after logging off, getting the kiddie-winks sorted, trying to pull together a meal for the family; we are also trying to sift through that room to try and get it functioning as a home office ASAP! Having a designated area that you can work is fundamental if you are not fortunate enough to have a separate office space have a plan in place to where you can dash to for quiet if your call requires.

I think one of the best things I have done this week, was to do a fly-by to my office to go and retrieve my office chair. I was only 2 days in when I realised my back would soon be not thanking me for carrying out my normal hours on one of our wooden dining room chairs. Nobody currently knows how long things will continue in this way, so please no matter where your ‘desk-top’ now finds itself make sure you adapt to have your usual work comforts. Whilst at work, I used the opportunity to grab my keyboard wrist support – which has also been beneficial over the last few days.

Whist trying to carry out my work as normal as possible I am also doing my best at trying to create a structured environment for the girls as we now find ourselves job-share primary school teachers, which is definitely easier said than done. Day 5 of not leaving the house for the girls, except for our garden…they have hit that stir-crazy wall…from the minute they woke this morning it has been different level crazy…one is currently hanging upside down from our apple tree whilst the other is trying to kick a football to knock her down!!! Schools are officially closing as from today and I know are working tirelessly to try and provide distant learning school packs, which will hopefully help.

Having now taken part in my first virtual meeting which was changed to a “Go to meeting” rather than in-person understandably, could this be our new norm…will the majority of face to face meetings now be a thing of the past? It has so many positives in its favour; better for the environment, fewer costs involved but you still get to see the person (almost) face to face, making it more personal than a phone call or email. If this is going to be a regular part of your working day, it is most certainly worth the investment of decent webcam – if your inbuilt one is not up to scratch, the other addition I would highly recommend is a decent headphone/headset it really helped to improve sound quality and block out some of the distracting noise…aka my youngest appearing above my screen to mouth “Mummy, can I have a biscuit?”, credit where credit is due she’s spotted a weakness and taken full advantage of it, she obviously took my silence as a resounding yes and makes a dash to the kitchen whilst I have to remain focused and appear sane whilst I really want to scream… “Aaaaaaargh…stop eating all the snacks!!!! They have to last us!!!!!!”.

In this time of worry and adaption I’m still trying to count my daily blessings and remember to be thankful, my husband I both work in IT making it easier for us to WFH, as so many other businesses worry how they will continue, this flexibility we are both extremely grateful for. We have our health, currently managing to avoid Covid-19 but I can not express my gratitude enough to those who work within the NHS, emergency services, delivery drivers, supermarket staff etc who have worked so hard to get this country through this dark time.

Today, spring has sprung and hopefully along with the ‘spring cleans’, we’ll continue to see more of that sun in the sky, which has been a lifesaver in being able to let our girls burn off some steam and may the more frequent pops of floral colour continue to keep reminding us that a new season is upon us.

Good luck everyone, we will get through this.